Baccarat is one of the oldest card games and has a history that’s steeped in mystery and debate. It’s believed to have originated in Italy around the end of the 14th century, where it was known as “baccara,” which means zero in Italian. This name reflects the fact that all tens and face cards in the game are worth zero points.
The game was then introduced to France during the reign of King Charles VIII in the late 15th century, where it became a favorite pastime among the French nobility. It was in France that the game evolved into two major variations: ‘Chemin de Fer’ and ‘Baccarat Banque.’ A third version, ‘Punto Banco,’ was developed in Cuba in the mid-20th century and is the most commonly played version of baccarat in casinos today.
Baccarat first arrived in the United States in the early 20th century, brought by immigrants and travelers. However, it did not initially gain popularity as Americans favored games like blackjack and poker. It wasn’t until the 1950s, when the Sands Casino in Las Vegas introduced Chemin de Fer, that the game started gaining recognition.
The game became synonymous with glamour and exclusivity, often played in roped-off sections of casinos, and became particularly loved by high rollers. In the latter half of the 20th century, casinos introduced mini-baccarat, a version of the game with lower betting limits, making it accessible to a wider audience.
In recent years, online versions of baccarat have further increased its popularity, making the game accessible to everyone, not just high rollers and the elite.